Talking Thrillers with Author Jack Beaumont: The Frenchman

Jack Beaumont

Jack Beaumont is not the real name of the author of The Frenchman, a book that itself is full of pseudonyms, nicknames and operational code names. Beaumont was a member of the French secret service after a career as a pilot and has, since retiring, moved to Australia. Following in the footsteps of authors like Stella Rimington he has now poured his experience and knowledge into fiction. The result is The Frenchman, a spy thriller that takes inspiration from his real-life experiences.

Keep reading for our interview with Beaumont about this explosive new release.

TFx: Where did you come up with the idea for this book, and what can you tell us about the plot?

Beaumont: After being a fighter pilot and a military pilot for special operations and intelligence missions in the French Air Force, I was a spy for eight years. I led clandestine operations under false identities, in the DGSE - the French external secret service.

I resigned in 2014 but a few years after I was still having nightmares about what I did and witnessed, and I would walk around my house at 2am in the dark with a knife in my hand to check every door and every window before sitting on the couch waiting for someone to come in. If I did it to others, why would no one do it to me? 

A friend who understood my state of mind told me that I should write a book about what I did, and that it would help. That’s how everything started…

The plot of The Frenchman is based on a few real threats that I had to face being in the Services. It starts with the book’s protagonist Alec de Payns, leading a failed operation in Sicily, in which a source for the DGSE is murdered. De Payns is placed under suspicion by the internal affairs division of the DGSE but he can’t dwell on this investigation because he is assigned to a dangerous operation to uncover a secret bioweapon facility in Pakistan and discover the purpose of the bioweapon.

As the internal affairs investigation closes on de Payns, and it becomes clear the bioweapons are being developed for use in Europe, de Payns is also fighting to keep his marriage alive. The psychological burden of having to be one thing in the field and another person for his wife and children, is weighing heavily on him. In order to break the bioweapons conspiracy, de Payns has to get close to a Pakistani ex-patriot living in Belgium and that leads him to sharing a meal with the mastermind of the bioweapons program in Islamabad - an intensely dangerous mission that he barely survives. As de Payns and his colleagues unravel the conspiracy, it becomes obvious that the bioweapons threat is against Western civilisation itself, and it’s been hatched right under the noses of the DGSE.

TFx: What draws you to writing in the thriller genre?

Beaumont: Being a spy for eight years, I saw the worst of human nature: some guys are ready to abandon their own wife and kids, for money; some torture others for pleasure; some want to kill as many human beings as they can in the most horrible way…

The problem with the spy world is once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it, and you tend to lose faith in human nature - you see the worst in everyone. The thriller genre was the only one where I could explore and express those feelings, and take the reader deep down where I’ve been.

TFx: How much research went into the writing of this book?

Beaumont: I didn’t have to do too much research as the book is highly realistic and based on my real experiences. The espionage world is often portrayed the same way: a single man, fearless, almost a superhero!

Reality is far from that, and I wanted readers to feel what we feel when we are in the field, by ourselves, far from home, being someone else, and with no one to help you. The Frenchman is the most realistic spy thriller you can possibly find on the market: the places really exist, the characters really exist, and the situations really existed.

TFx: What was the hardest scene to write in this book?

Beaumont: Because of its realism and the reasons why I wrote it, the whole book was psychologically hard to write. It was taking me back to times that my conscience was trying to elude. As a spy I had five different identities simultaneously, and at the end of the day, coming back home as my real self became just an additional sixth one.

People tend to ignore the mental toll and the paranoia, and the pressure that this generates in the family and the marriage. I wrote by opening my heart to unknowns, which was hard. Especially when you’ve been trained not to show or tell anything!

Get Jack Beaumont’s latest release, The Frenchman, out now on Amazon

The Frenchman

Based on the experiences of a real French spy, Jack Beaumont’s first-hand knowledge and experiences make this thriller plausible and frightening as you’re plunged into the very real world of terror, espionage, and danger.

Alec de Payns is an undercover operative in the ultra-elusive French Y Division of the DGSE, a foreign intelligence service equivalent to the CIA or MI6. Code named Aguilar, de Payns is one of the division’s most accomplished agents working to neutralize international threats on a daily basis while simultaneously trying to balance his home life as a husband and father. When a routine mission to infiltrate a dangerous terrorist group unexpectedly goes belly up, Alec is faced with the unthinkable: that he may have been betrayed by someone in his close-knit team—and they may be trying to pin the blame on Alec himself.

Back in Paris, Alec is assigned to investigate a secretive biological weapons facility in Pakistan which the DGSE believes to be producing a newly weaponized strain of bacteria, intended for release in France. As Alec works to uncover the facility’s secrets, he must also fight to clear his name and discover who the mole is before it’s too late. It’s not just his reputation that’s at stake—it’s the lives of his wife, two young children, and the entire population of Paris.

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